The Mission of the Sustainability Studies Program at Colorado Mountain College
Through active intellectual and experiential learning, we prepare students to meet the pressing local and global challenges of sustainability.
The Bachelor of Arts program in Sustainability Studies at Colorado Mountain College engages students in active learning, critical and creative thinking, and on-the-ground experiences that help prepare them for dynamic careers and lifelong engagement with communities and the natural world. Our courses focus on integrated understanding of the three Es of sustainability (healthy environment, vibrant economy, and social equity) and on applying that understanding to real-world contexts. Our program offers students a unique opportunity to develop personal and professional identities, knowledge, and skills that prepare them for meaningful and productive work in a rapidly changing world. Our students develop a deep understanding of local and global sustainability challenges. They are also encouraged to develop the knowledge, skills, and deep motivation to effectively address these challenges in their personal and professional lives.
In addition to the three Es of sustainability, the Sustainability Studies program faculty values the following:
Diversity of approaches to knowledge making. Our program includes insights drawn from the arts, humanities, social sciences, and sciences. Our courses include the ideas and voices of thinkers, activists, and creative professionals from both Western and non-Western traditions whose work draws upon a wide variety of disciplinary frameworks.
Resiliency. Our program prepares students to consider best practices for ensuring the long-term health and happiness of people while also ensuring ecosystem health.
Rigor. Our coursework challenges students to learn and synthesize knowledge from diverse areas of study that range from science to philosophy, from literature to economics, and more. Our content is both broad and deep because our graduates must be prepared to take action on complex problems in diverse social and ecological settings.
Place-centeredness. Our students learn that sustainability as a concept and practice can only take shape within the context of specific places. What is sustainable in one place may not be so in another, and sustainability practitioners must engage with people in culturally diverse settings. Therefore, we value diverse approaches to sustainability that are responsive to specific cultures and environments.
Empathy. We believe education is a matter of both mind and heart. People are motivated to live more sustainably because they care about other people and the planet. We therefore promote the development of a deep sense of empathy in our students – a sense of connection with people and nature that can underpin both motivation for action and a sense of personal fulfillment.
Efficacy. Our students have the distinct opportunity to develop critical and creative thinking abilities as well as intellectual and practical capabilities that prepare them to be articulate and effective sustainability thinkers and practitioners.
Partnerships. We see sustainability as both an individual and a collective enterprise. Our students learn to integrate sustainability concepts and practices into their own lives. In an effort to also provide our students with valuable experiences working with others, we develop partnerships with businesses, nonprofit organizations, governments, and other people and organizations that are engaged in sustainability work. We seek service learning and internship opportunities that benefit our students, our communities, and the planet.
Program-wide Learning Outcomes
Our students develop critical and creative thinking abilities as well as intellectual and practical capabilities that prepare them to be articulate and effective sustainability leaders, thinkers, and practitioners. The learning outcomes for each of our courses contribute to these overarching program goals.
To determine the extent to which students are meeting these overarching learning goals, student work in the Sustainability Capstone (SUS 489) and the Careers and Professional Skills in Sustainability (SUS 416) courses is evaluated according to the following program-wide learning outcomes. In these courses, each student should:
- Articulate the concept and practice of sustainability as it relates to the self, community, and the wider world.
- Analyze, synthesize, and interpret complex adaptive systems.
- Conduct and communicate sustainability research that draws upon, integrates, critiques, and/or transcends disciplinary frameworks.
- Demonstrate how qualitative/quantitative measures can be used in collaboration with diverse stakeholders to assess, report, and design approaches that address sustainability challenges and opportunities.
- Demonstrate professional skills and career development abilities in the field.